By Richard E. Strassberg
Seventy six b/w plates, 37 b/w illustrations A chinese language Bestiary offers a desirable competition of legendary creatures from a special and enduring cosmography written in historic China. The Guideways via Mountains and Seas, compiled among the fourth and primary centuries b.c.e., includes descriptions of countless numbers of amazing denizens of mountains, rivers, islands, and seas, in addition to minerals, plant life, and medication. The textual content additionally represents a variety of ideals held by way of the traditional chinese language. Richard Strassberg brings the Guideways to existence for contemporary readers by way of weaving jointly translations from the paintings itself with info from different texts and up to date archaeological unearths to create a lavishly illustrated consultant to the creative international of early China. not like the bestiaries of the overdue medieval interval in Europe, the Guideways was once now not interpreted allegorically; the unknown creatures defined in it have been considered as genuine entities stumbled on in the course of the panorama. The paintings used to be initially used as a sacred geography, as a guidebook for tourists, and as a ebook of omens. this present day, it's considered as the richest repository of historic chinese language mythology and shamanistic knowledge. The Guideways can have been illustrated from the beginning, however the earliest surviving illustrations are woodblock engravings from a unprecedented 1597 version. Seventy-six of these plates are reproduced right here for the 1st time, they usually supply a very good instance of the chinese language engraver's paintings in the course of the past due Ming dynasty. this pretty quantity, compiled via a widely known professional within the box, presents a desirable window at the recommendations and ideology of an old humans, and should satisfaction experts and common readers alike.
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Extra info for A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas
1444–45). These largely continued the interests of Song scholasticism and simply reprinted Guo Pu’s commentary. It was not until the middle of the sixteenth century, however, that another revival of interest in the book began that continued through the Qing dynasty and into the modern period. The burgeoning commercial economy and urban culture of this period supported a rapid expansion of popular printing and of a wide variety of relatively inexpensive books to serve a broader readership beyond the elite level of scholars.
Some of these developments provided additional contexts for appreciating the Guideways. Among the newer genres disseminating knowledge of strange creatures was vernacular fiction, notably Wu Cheng’en’s (c. 1500–c. 1582) allegory, The Journey to the West (Xiyouji, printed 1592), which contained numerous demons challenging the spiritual progress of the heroes as I N T R O D U C T I O N 2 1 they journeyed to India. Other late-Ming novels such as Epic Tales Since Creation (Kaipi yanyi, c. 83 The immense popularity of fiction among all classes began to alter the reception of the Guideways from that of a geographical work to a collection of ancient narratives.
Henan Provincial Museum. Guan went on to note the various government positions occupied by wu-shamans, indicating that some of them not only played a role in o‹cial cults but were also incorporated into the political structure. There was undoubtedly much diversity in the styles of their magical practices and beliefs, reflecting not only hierarchical di erences among them but also the considerable variations of local cultures. Little is known of their social organization, however. Their roles may have been largely, though not exclusively, hereditary, while only the names and myths about a few individuals have been preserved.
A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas by Richard E. Strassberg